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Blues' Miller snaps out of slump in Game 1

Friday, 04.18.2014 / 2:25 AM
Louie Korac  - NHL.com Correspondent

ST. LOUIS -- When Patrick Kane's shot went through Ryan Miller's pads for the Chicago Blackhawks' third goal of the first period against the St. Louis Blues in Game 1 of their Western Conference First Round series on Thursday night, it was a rude reminder of what the Blues' goalie had been going through the past couple weeks.

Miller was 0-5-0 with a 3.82 goals-against average and a save percentage of .856 in his final five starts in the regular season. Those were not exactly the kind of numbers the Blues were looking for.

Kane's goal came on Chicago's seventh shot of the game and gave the Blackhawks a 3-2 lead.

But Miller was flawless for the rest of the game. Enough was enough. He stopped Chicago's final 35 shots, including some dandy saves along the way, and helped the Blues to a 4-3 triple-overtime victory.

"You don't plan on getting into that kind of a game," said Miller, who finished with 39 saves. "I thought both teams had great opportunities. [Maxim Lapierre] bailed me out. ... That's how these games kind of go. You get lucky on a few situations and you've got to battle through the rest. It was just nice to come out of the end of this with the win."

But the Blues got a sense that Miller's game was coming around. The Blackhawks hemmed the Blues in their zone at the start of the second period. Chicago applied the early pressure, and by the end of the period, Miller had faced eight shots. However, many of them came in a flurry of activity in the opening minutes, and those stops kept it a one-goal game.

"I had to enter the battle sometime," Miller said. "They had a couple nice shots there in the first. I didn't set up the breakaway on Kane very well, as you might have seen. I thought I could get him in a situation where I could give myself an advantage that totally backfired.

"I had to come out and battle. Luckily I got a hold of a few of them. I feel good overall. The first was, I was just going to try and shrug it off and keep going and know it wasn't about one period. It was about a culmination of four [wins] in seven games. I try not to change my approach for any one period. Nice to come out on the right side."

Miller's biggest save of the game when he stopped a Patrick Sharp breakaway with 2:41 remaining in the second overtime.

"Big saves from 'Millsie,' at key times of the game," said Blues forward Alexander Steen, who scored the game-winner 26 seconds into the third overtime. "Obviously in overtime, 'Millsie' on Sharp there and he got a couple other ones."

Steve Ott, who came with Miller from the Buffalo Sabres in a trade on Feb. 28, said it was no surprise to see Miller perform in this manner.

"When he seals the door like that, good things are going to happen," said Ott, who set up Steen's game-winning goal. "That's the type of world-class goalie he is and professionalism that 'Millsie' brings on a nightly basis."

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said his goalie definitely picked up his play as the game progressed.

"He got better as the game went on," Hitchcock said. "From the second period on, I thought he was great, outstanding, and a difference maker for us. He saw a lot of rubber for us today, as did [Chicago's Corey] Crawford. Both goalies were outstanding today."

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